I met earlier this week with Constant Contact, the email service provider focused on the small (and I mean SMALL business market. . . half of their clients have fewer than 5 employees). They were in to talk about a new survey tool they’ve developed ListenUp!, the first product in a new marketing suite of SMB tools they are developing to complement their email capabilities. The survey tool looks good. . . a helpful solution for small marketers trying to conduct some market research, or gather some customer data to make segmentation possible.

But what really impressed me in my conversation with Constant Contact was their value system and how it has led to continued growth for them. Here it is:

  • Focus on solving customer problems. Ostensibly this is what all technology vendors are trying to do. But from my seat, I see a lot of examples of vendors losing sight of the problems they are trying to solve as they build out cool new functionality or strive for venture funding. With Constant Contact it was easy to see their focus, because small business users have such clear and familiar needs. . . like "make sure my message looks good and gets delivered consistently because I am the person my customer will see behind the counter when they come pick up their dry cleaning." Or, "help me find a simple way I can inexpensively drive sales without a marketing team." To answer this last one, Constant Contact has launched a team of Regional Sales Directors that actually present educational seminars at local chambers of commerce to introduce small business owners to the opportunity of email (and hopefully win some business at the same time).
  • Listen to your customers. Constant Contact talks to their customers continuously by surveying roughtly 10% of their customers every month. These surveys led to their developing ListenUp! and is also leading to the enhancements they are adding to their next release of the survey platform later this month.

It may be that all enterprise vendors also follow a similar dogma. But I rarely hear it come out as loud and clear as it did for me with Constant Contact. Made it worth putting down in black and white!